Dalmatic, from the ecclesiastical Latin dalmatica, which means woolen blouse of Dalmatia, is a choir garment. Short sleeve and shaped as a cross, the dalmatic varies according to the liturgical calendar. Worn by Deacons at Mass, processions and Vespers. It derives from a civilian Roman garment, and its liturgical use goes back to the IV century. At first white, the dalmatic gradually matches the colours of chasubles, with two vertical stripes in the front and in the back, the “clavi”. Originally, this garment symbolizes joy.(Source – Wikipedia)
Mentioned in the Grandmont inventories in 1575 and 1666, the origin of this liturgical garment is beyond doubt. As is the case for the Reliquary Casket of Ambazac, it was presented to the Priory of Ambazac, during the Revolution in 1793. According to Abbot Nadaud’s testimony in 1738, it seems that it was still worn by new Deacons while chanting their first Gospel in the Abbey. This rather exceptional occurrence most certainly accounts for the numerous wear and tear repairs, observed during the most recent restoration
Although its origin has not been clearly ascertained, legend has it that this garment was given to Saint Etienne de Muret in 1121 by Queen Empress Matilda, wife, first, of the Emperor of Germany, Henry V, and then of Geoffrey Plantagenêt. This anecdote died hard since it was not before 1960, that the outstanding research by Dorothy Shepherd, proved that the fabric of this dalmatic could not have been anterior to the XIII century.
Made in Spain during the second-half of XIII century (mais be around Burgos), it is possible that it was acquired in the Iberian Peninsula by a pilgrim of Saint-James-of-Compostela, who gifted it to the Abbey of Grandmont in tribute to Etienne, its founder. This type of fabric, called “hispano-moorish”, since it was made by Moors for Christians, was analysed after the discovery of the royal tombs of the Abbey of Las Huelgas, near Burgos, and of the princely garments they contained.
It is certainly the involvement of Queen Matilda in the construction of the new Abbey that fuelled the wrong impression that she was the source of all the ancient objects coming from it; died in 1164, she could not have donated a garment two centuries later.
Object of worship, this piece is more precisely assessed today, its designers better understood and its symbolic as well as historical value reinforced.
(Source - Culture gouvernement)